A growing number of Muslim biology students are walking out of lectures on evolution, according to a genetics professor in the United Kingdom. The students claim the course material is incompatible with their religious beliefs in creationism.

University College London professor Steve Jones recently told The Sunday Times that in previous years, most objections to his classes came from fundamentalist Christian students. He says the dissent now comes overwhelmingly from Muslim students.

“Occasionally, my colleagues lecturing in universities lament having undergraduate students walk out of their classes when they talk about evolution — this is almost entirely Muslims,” British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins told the The Sunday Times. “I think there’s a very, very pernicious influence that is lasting up to the university years.”

The debate over teaching evolution is not only heard between Muslims and their non-Muslim counterparts, but also within Islam itself. According to the Evolution Education Research Center at McGill University, many Muslim-majority countries teach evolutionary principles in schools while placing emphasis on supporting material from the Koran.

The same study also found that Muslim students attending religious schools in Western countries were more likely to doubt evolution than their counterparts in countries such as Indonesia or Pakistan.

While some might see this as a reaction to Western scientific values, others, such as Muslim intellectual Edip Yuksel argue that Darwin’s own theories of evolution were influenced by the work of Muslim scientists. Rational thinking and scientific methodology, Yuksel claims, is necessary for Muslims according to the Koran.

In this episode of The Stream, American Islamic scholar and Imam Joe Bradford discusses the relationship between Islam and evolution. Also on the programme is Salman Hameed, a professor of science and humanities at Hampshire College.

What do you think? Can religion and science be reconciled? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #AJStream.

These are some of the highlights from the conversation around the web: